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Kyiv pediatric surgeon says doctors 'live in hospital' as the city is under siege

Hospital staff admits an injured child. (Courtesy of Oleg Godik)
Hospital staff admits an injured child. (Courtesy of Oleg Godik)

Explosions continue to cause death and destruction in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv in Russia’s week-long war in the country.

Children are among the victims. Pediatric surgeon Oleg Godik is seeing that first hand. He works at the National Children’s Hospital in Kyiv, which has now opened its doors to anyone in need of medical attention.

On the first day of the war, people started coming into the hospital — located in the center of downtown Kyiv — seeking treatment after shootings and bombings, he says. The first patient his team operated on was a 6 or 7-year-old child who was bleeding from the neck, he says.

Doctors like Godik are staying at the hospital waiting to see what happens next. If another bombing or shooting occurs, injured people will flood in, he says.

“We live in hospital,” he says.

When the missile warning sounds, Godik says the doctors go to the hospital basement. The doctors are tired: They’re working for four hours, sleeping for two and working for another four, he says.

To calm the injured children who come in, a psychologist greets every patient and talks with them about what happened, he says.

And the doctors themselves need to grapple with what’s happening.

“We understand it’s war,” Godik says, “and our emotions [are] very, very deep in the heart of every colleague.”

On Wednesday, two bombs hit near the hospital — but the doctors plan to keep helping patients, he says.

“Today, many [of my] colleagues say we stay now and we will stay in the clinic for the victory in Ukraine,” he says, “because we understand it’s our work and we must do [it] and help children, patients, soldiers.”

Volunteers are helping the clinic meet the critical need for supplies like medication and food, he says.

Godik wants Americans to understand that what’s happening in Ukraine is “not incidents, it’s war” and that the death toll is high, he says. Ukraine is an independent country with history, he says, and he doesn’t understand Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions.

“I want to say thank you, people all over the world who support Ukraine now,” Godik says.

Lynn Menegon produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Jill RyanAllison Hagan adapted it for the web.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.